Once used primarily by athletes and coaches, a foam roller is a valuable tool for anyone’s fitness routine.
Have you ever seen an athlete, physical therapist, or someone at the gym rolling their body on a foam log and wondered what they were doing? To answer your question, “what is a foam roller,” it is a tool used to perform self-myofascial release. This means that when your muscles are tight and sore, a foam roller is a way for you to release that tightness and work out trigger points, or “knots.”
Using a foam roller is kind of like getting a deep tissue massage, except you use the foam and your bodyweight to apply pressure on specific parts of your body. As you roll on the foam log, fibrous tissue is broken down and circulation is increased, which helps to alleviate tension and pain.
Even if you don’t have a specific trigger point to work on, using a foam roller is still beneficial for relaxing your muscles and can be incorporated into your regular exercise routine. Rolling prior to working out can promote a better warm-up and rolling afterwards can help muscles to recover from the workout. By its very nature the foam roller is unstable so in using it you also work your core muscles and it helps to build strength and balance.